Wimbledon star Elena Rybakina dismisses Russian ‘product’ claims

Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 9, 2022 Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina celebrates with the trophy after winning the women’s singles final against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur REUTERS/Matthew Childs

Newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina on Tuesday dismissed Russian claims that she was its “product” as she spoke in Kazakhstan which she represented at the tournament.

Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon this year after Russia sent troops to Ukraine but Moscow-born Rybakina was able to play as she had switched her allegiance to Kazakhstan in 2018.

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At the weekend Russia appeared to claim her Grand Slam success when Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev described Rybakina as “our product”.

“It’s very nice! Well done Rybakina! We win the Wimbledon tournament,” Tarpischev said.

Russia’s former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov reinforced that view in a post on Twitter on Monday.

“Buying a ready to use product from the producer does not take a lot of brains,” wrote retired Kafelnikov, who won the French and Australian Opens and an Olympic gold medal.

Rybakina’s parents still live in Moscow and she has been reluctant throughout the tournament to elaborate on how much time she spends in Russia.